The retail/residential building at the southeast corner of Clark and Ridge was for many years occupied by the Maybelline Company, first between 1928 and 1939 as a tenant, and then between 1939 and 1967 as the owner. Maybelline apparently occupied all the ground level space we now see as store fronts, plus the basement area and a loading dock on the south side of the structure. A main entrance door at the corner of Clark and Ridge featured a distinctive “M” emblem, now removed, although a version of it remains on the Ridge side entry to the residential lobby.

Maybelline used the buildings for the hand packaging and shipping of the company’s famous mascara and other beauty products, as well as for its corporate offices (manufacturing took place elsewhere). Thomas Lyle Williams, Maybelline’s founder and president until the company was sold in 1967, very likely chose to rent this location because of its proximity to his apartment in the newly completed Edgewater Beach Apartments. Several members of the Williams family, also involved in the business, lived nearby, and Maybelline was an important local employer. EHS has an early 1930s photograph of 24 of the key staff members standing in front of the building next to one of the company’s elegant delivery trucks. The bottom half of the store windows on the Clark Street side are covered with opaque panels with the large “M” Logo.

What we know as the Maybelline building was not constructed with the company in mind, however. It was built by well known Swedish American developer Victor C. Carlson, who sought to duplicate at Ridge, Clark, Ashland and Peterson the type of high quality apartments combined with ground floor shopping with which he had been successful in downtown Evanston. These featured elegant lobbies, elevators and inside ramped parking for both residents and shoppers. In the case of the Maybelline building, the ground level parking was accessed from the rear alley, and there was a private planted courtyard on the garage roof for use by the tenants of the 52 apartments on the second and third floors. The architects were the Chicago firm of O’Connor and O’Connor.

The Maybelline building was intended to be the first part of a $2 million automobile-oriented multi-building “uptown shopping center” that Carlson called “Market Square.” Carlson built the second component across the street at 5906-5922 N. Ashland, which features a parking ramp entered from the front of the building. A third building to the south on Ashland was intended to house an automobile dealership. The stock market crash put a stop to his plans for the auto dealership, and he lost control of the two other properties in the mid-1930s.